Proposed question:

I requested an impartial special education hearing to establish eligibility under IDEA for my son. The hearing is heard by an administrative law judge with additional training in special education law. I lost at hearing but won on review. I am in a "two tier" state, New York. The review is done by a state review officer, with even more additional training in special education law. The school district has recently filed an appeal to state court (county supreme court).

With me being a pro se parent, rules and customs were explained to me as we went along. For example:

  • The review process did not involve any witnesses, additional evidence, or oral argument. It consisted simply of a review of the complete record, along with written statements and memoranda of law submitted by each side. The added fillip was that first I filed my appeal documents, then the district had a certain number of days to write an Answer, and then I had three days to write a brief Reply (to the Answer).

  • For the hearing, I was not allowed to submit a written statement into evidence. However, if I had in my own records a copy of an email that I had sent to the district, which contained the information I wanted to introduce into evidence, that was acceptable. (I'm not saying anything about credibility in this paragraph, only admissibility.)

The court clerk at the state court told me that this appeal might involve something like a hearing or trial; or it might just be a review of the record (similar to the state review process) and a written argument, kind of like written closing arguments, with a memorandum of law, on both sides.

I need to read something that outlines the various steps, rules and customs that are involved in a court proceeding of this type (in case there ends up being a hearing or trial), including:

  • how ex parte communication is prevented

  • what opportunities there will be to speak with the judge or make an oral or written argument

  • what's acceptable as evidence

  • how discovery works in this venue

  • the difference between a "conference" and a "hearing"

  • under what circumstances hearings and witnesses are heard

  • description of the types of documents I can submit, e.g. motion to dismiss, response, affidavit, etc.

  • how to format the documents I submit

  • customs for making objections

  • how long each step tends to take (or at least a range, for example "from two weeks to three months")

  • (Please feel free to add to this list)

I realize there might be some variation from one state to another, but if I have familiarized myself with the situation in the United States in general, I'll then have an easier time understanding the New York rules, and also I'll be able to ask better questions about the New York rules when I'm communicating with the court clerk.

My goal is to get through the basics in about three hours of concentrated reading, if possible, with perhaps some skimming of sections that look like they will not be relevant for me at this time.

Model: What to Expect When You're Expecting.

I'm asking for help finding a reference. BUT -- if you want to provide some of the information I need here, in an answer, you won't get an objection from me!

Is that okay as is for this site? Any editing needed?

1 Answer 1


This is clearly too broad a question to ask, plus, it's not clear whether you are asking these question as they would apply to the school system's internal review versus an appeal to the state courts. For example, the essence of an appeal is that you present your legal argument to the judge (as does the other side); but in a trial, you don't present "an argument", you present facts (to the jury if there is one, otherwise to the judge) with some kind of closing statement that resembles an argument. There is nothing to "discover" with an appeal. You cannot object in an appeal, and you must in a trial (i.e. even if a judge did something wrong in a trial, if you don't object, that can't be the basis for an appeal). In other words, your question is pretty much "how does the legal system work?".

You might want to look at this blurb on pro se litigation (from the opposing side), or this.

  • "The school district has recently filed an appeal to state court (county supreme court)" -- what is unclear about this? I really don't understand how this might not be clear. It's not an internal review. Jun 4, 2017 at 3:07
  • My impression is that the legal system has slightly different procedures, rules, customs and expectations, depending on which part of it you are navigating through. I saw clear differences just between the hearing and the review. For example, to avoid ex parte communications in the hearing, we would email the hearing officer and cc each other; the hearing officer would email both of us each time he wanted to communicate with one of us. However, there were a couple of pre-hearing conferences conducted by phone. These are encouraged in the training materials for the hearing officers. Jun 4, 2017 at 3:16
  • ... In contrast, for the review, no phone conferences whatsoever. However, when I had the occasional procedural question, I was permitted to phone and speak with someone (although not the review officer -- she was walled off). Jun 4, 2017 at 3:16
  • I'm not denying the validity of your experiences, I'm pointing out a problem with your question. The question is not whether you know and understand what happened, it is whether you can make others understand and provide relevant information. To put the matter more directly, I cannot figure out what legal fact you want information on. Narrow the focus.
    – user6726
    Jun 4, 2017 at 22:13
  • This isn't about legal facts, it's about legal procedures. Administrative hearings are apparently different from court proceedings. I have learned something about the former; now I would like to read about what to expect, and the terminology, in the latter. Jun 5, 2017 at 5:14

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